Thursday, October 8, 2009

In First Lady's roots, a Complex Path from Slavery

In First Lady's roots, a Complex Path from SlaveryBy Rachel L. Swarns and Jodi Cantor, NY Times, Oct. 7, 2009

In 1850, the master of a South Carolina estate sold a 6-year-old slave girl named Melvinia for $475 and shipped her to a three-slave estate in Georgia. When she was a teenager, she had a child with a white man-an unremarkable event in the sad history of slavery, except that Melvinia and her child's father are the great-great-great-grandparents of Michelle Obama. The New York Times has uncovered this unknown portion of Michelle's family history. Melvinia's son, Dolphus, migrated to Birmingham, Alabama, in 1888 and co-founded the Trinity Baptist Church, which helped lead the civil-rights movement and still exists today. He died at the age of 91 in 1950, and his obituary appeared in the same issue of The Birmingham World as an article with the historic headline, "U.S. Court Bans Segregation in Diners and Higher Education."

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